- The main wreckage of Air France 447 has been found, the chief investigator tells French radio
- The plane went down en route from Brazil to France in 2009
- Most of the bodies have never been found
- The cause of the crash remains unknown
Paris (CNN) — Bodies of victims of the crash of Air France flight 447 have been found in the wreckage of the plane, a French government minister said in a radio interview Monday, nearly two years after the crash that killed 228 people.
“We have bodies… there are bodies that are still in the parts that have been found,” Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet told Radio France Monday.
Air accident investigators have not confirmed that bodies were found, but the head of the agency investigating the crash said Monday he believed the main part of the wreckage had been found.
“It seems that we have discovered the wreckage site. Up until now we had only found a few elements of debris floating on the surface,” Jean-Paul Troadec, head of the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA) told a different Radio France program.
Investigators said Sunday that they had found pieces of the Air France jet that crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.
Air France Flight 447 disappeared after taking off from Rio de Janeiro on its way to Paris.
The BEA said Sunday that a team — led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution — discovered parts of the aircraft during an underwater search operation conducted within the past 24 hours.
The agency did not immediately say what parts of the jet the team found.
Investigators have not yet established what caused the crash, and large parts of the plane — including both flight recorders — have never been located, despite an extensive search operation that included a French navy submarine.
The Air France plane went down in stormy weather, and most of the bodies were never recovered.
Studies of the debris and bodies that were found led the BEA to conclude the plane hit the water belly first, essentially intact. Oxygen masks were not deployed, indicating that the cabin did not depressurize, the BEA said in a 2009 report.
Automated messages sent from the plane in the minutes before the crash showed there were problems measuring air speed, investigators have said, though they said that alone was not enough to cause the disaster.
The area where the plane went down is far out in the Atlantic — two to four days for ships to reach from the nearest ports in Brazil or Senegal in west Africa. The underwater terrain is rough with underwater mountains and valleys, the BEA has said.